I've always appreciated a good cup, but never as much as when I started writing. Many a day, night, and weekend, I tap away while sipping a cappuccino and munching on a chocolate biscotti. And oh boy, did I go through a lot of espresso while co-writing my most ambitious work to-date, The Java Developer's Guide to Eclipse! So how did I go from writing about computer programming to writing about espresso?
Indeed, my path to Home-Barista.com is a strange one. It began when I joined CoffeeGeek and found myself fascinated by subtle performance and design characteristics that separated different espresso machines. In a weekend flash of inspiration, I wrote my first large-scale consumer review for my own machine La Valentina, which spanned fifteen single-spaced pages. It was a fun break from my more typical technical writing and I still update the review from time-to-time, adding observations or tips that I acquire.
Later I became a moderator on CoffeeGeek. As part of my duties, I had reasons to exchange e-mails with Chris Nachtrieb, owner of Chris' Coffee Service. Sometimes our discussion centered on hotly disputed interpretation of the board's rules, others on espresso in general. Chris and I approach espresso making from different angles—him from 29 years of experience and intuition, me with a handful of gauges, thermocouples, a 0.1 gram accuracy scale, and a ream of notes. Over time he and I developed a mutual respect for each other's approach. We may not always agree on every point, but there's always that respect. One day Chris sent me an e-mail with an attached photo of the then-unannounced Isomac rotary, the machine now known as the Mondiale. I jokingly replied that if he was interested in a "test dummy" for his new offering, he should let me know. I also mentioned that I enjoy writing and as a sample of my work, he should check out my reviews.
He was impressed with my work and liked my communication style. He proposed that I write a series of articles on his latest espresso machines as they came to market. Believe me, it was a hard offer to refuse. I mean, c'mon—I'm like a kid in a candy store and my mom isn't looking! I proposed the basic structure of how I would present each article with the goal of balancing opinion, technical detail— and it's my hope —a little of the passion that surrounds my espresso hobby. One point Chris insisted on and we agreed to right up front: Although some articles reference Chris' Coffee Service and his website, he nor anyone else on his staff would directly or indirectly influence the editorial content.
Since then, Home-Barista.com has welcomed several other sponsors (1st-line equipment, Espresso Parts Northwest / Home-Espresso.com, Intelligentsia Coffee Roasters, and Counter Culture Coffee). The ground rules are unchanged: All observations, critiques good or bad, hints, suggestions, and mistakes are my own. I assure you that I will do my best to offer you clear, unbiased, and factual comparisons. I promise you that and, as a consumer, you should expect no less.
If you find any errors or omissions in one of the articles, or wish to comment on this website, feel free to contact me at the e-mail below.